Today we are featuring the second blog in a three part series by David Daroff MA called “Faith, Hope and Love: A Mindset for Your Marriage” on what it really means to apply those concepts to our marriages.
And now these three remain: faith, HOPE and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1st Corinthians 13:13
My dog presents herself at my side, eyes full of hope and expectation. She is trusting that I will give her a treat, or at the very least, some attention. In psychology, we call this a conditioned response. This means it was not always that way, but through a series of stimulus and rewards and sometimes punishments and negative reinforcers, certain behaviors increase. The likelihood a behavior will re-occur is somewhat dependent on how you have related to that person. In the case of my dog, she knows that if she sits at my side and looks at me long enough, she’s going to get rewarded with a treat or attention. Her hope has been rewarded in the past, so she remains confident in that hope.
You might be reading this today because you’re feeling that there is little or no hope. Based on repeated experiences from the past, you may be seeing no way past your current circumstances. Many men come to us with no hope of saving their marriage. Women come to us with no hope that anything can change.
How Did We Get Here?
We’ve found that there is a process that most couples go though. We start out with being in love. Nothing can stop us, and everything is perfect, but then one day the honeymoon is over and reality sets in. We discover that there are actually problems – they were there all along, but we never took the time to discuss the issues as they came up. We had a hope that whatever came we would overcome, and we minimized our conflict. But now that we are further down the road in our relationship, we realize we just aren’t on the same page anymore and we have no idea where to go from here.
Enter the Three D’s:
- Don’t know what to do. We feel stuck and don’t want to talk about it. We withdraw and become emotionally disengaged.
- Defensiveness. We say things like, “I did not cause this. It must be your fault.” We use blame and shame, along with hurtful actions and language.
- Demoralized. This is the point where the couple has lost all hope and sees no way out except for complete separation. Divorce.
It often takes about six years for most couples to get to the point where they feel motivated enough to seek help, and to seek hope for their marriage.
What Does it Really Mean to Have Hope for our Marriages?
Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. In other words, we can hope for things that seem impossible based on faith in God’s faithfulness. According to an “archaic” definition, hope is synonymous with trust – meaning that we can trust that something will come about if we act in faith.
As Christ-followers, we can take this a step further by aligning our hope with God’s promises, so that we can faithfully move forward toward Godly goals. How do we hope to restore relationships? We act with the same diligence of living as if the relationship will be restored, and is in fact restored.
Dealing with Conflict and Disappointment
In short, we must act as if what we want is real. Amid a spouse’s hurt and disappointments, we must be willing to truly listen and empathize. The popular saying is “If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen.” I would say there will be heat. And my encouragement to you is to stand strong and take the heat. You may want to return to old patterns which may include all kinds of denial, minimizing, arguing, and justifying. At those times, stay in the moment. The anger you hear from your spouse often isn’t about the relationship as a whole, but rather, it’s an expression of years of frustration. And in those “heated” moments, it’s important to avoid reacting the way the world way say to react. Tactics like these will only add to your spouse’s hurt and frustration:
- Demanding your own way
- Insisting on your own happiness
- Taking what you want
- Acting entitled
- Complaining that you are being treated unjustly
These emotional pitfalls will keep you stuck and feeling hopeless. Instead, respond with love and sacrifice. We must learn to give with no thought of personal gain. We need to love selflessly, putting forth the effort to make our spouse feel special and to communicate that they are the object of our love. I would say that we must live in ways to make our spouse the best they can be. Build them up and help them feel empowered. To have relationship means a lot of sacrifice, but such sacrifice transforms us and renews our mind and or feelings.
Placing our Hope in God Helps us Love Better
Further on in Romans 15:13 Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Robert Brault says in his blog, “You find hope the same way you find happiness. You give it to someone else and borrow a little of it back.”
Once our hope is in God, we are fully able to treat others according to the directives in His Word without fear, or doubt or conceit, lifting up those around us. Or as the main character in the movie “As Good As It Gets” says, “You make me want to be a better man.” Hope should run both ways, allowing us to want to be “better” and to make those around us want to be “better” as well. So, take a few deep breaths, center your thoughts, be loving and win over your spouse again.
Do you need help rekindling hope for your marriage? We can help! Contact us today at 206.219.0145 or send us a message here. We would love to help you find restoration and hope for your relationship.